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Full text of "The Note Books Of Samuel Butler"

Pictures and Books

"be on a small scale in the first instance till you feel^j
safe under you.   Act more and rehearse less."

A friend once asked me whether I liked writing^
composing music or painting pictures best. I said I <
know. I like them all; but I never find time to paint a
picture now and only do small sketches and studies. I know in
which I am strongest—writing; I know in which I am weakest
—painting; I am weakest where I have taken most pains and
studied most.

Agonising

In art, never try to find out anything, or'try to learn
anything until the not knowing it has come to be a nuisance
to you for some time. Then you will remember it, but not
otherwise. Let knowledge importune you before you will
hear it. Our schools and universities go on the precisely
opposite system.

Never consciously agonise; the race is not to the swift,
nor the battle to the strong. Moments of extreme issue are
unconscious and must be left to take care of themselves.
During conscious moments take reasonable pains but no
more and, above all, work so slowly as never to get out of
breath. Take it easy, in fact, until forced not to do so.

There is no mystery about art. Do the things that you
can see ; they will show you those that you cannot see. By
doing what you can you will gradually get to know what it is
that you want to do and cannot do, and so to be able to do it.

The Choice of Subjects

Do not hunt for subjects, let them choose you, not you
them. Only do that which insists upon being done and runs
right up against you, hitting you in the eye until you do it.
This calls you and you had better attend to it, and do it as
well as you can. But till called in this way do nothing.

Imaginary Countries

Each man's mind is an unknown land to himself, so that
we need not be at such pains to frame a mechanism of ad-
venture for getting to undiscovered countries. We have not